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Is it Permissible to send the elderly Mother to the Nursing Home?

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With: KH Cecep Jayakarama

Assalamualaikum

Let me introduce myself, my name is Putri, I am a single mother. My husband passed away a year ago. I have a daughter who studies at secondary school. I also take care of my elderly mother. To support the living expenses, I work at a company where I work from morning until afternoon. Sometimes, I work overtime and arrive home late at night. 

My mother is very old and ill. I worry that when I leave her for work something bad happens to her. In the meantime, I could not afford to pay the nurse to look after my mother. Once I ask my mother, what if she stays in the nursing home with the consideration that someone would take care of and protect her. Besides, there will be friends who are of the same age to talk to and share stories. My mother agrees with my suggestion. However, I have guilty feelings and doubts about my decision. I would like to ask you, as an expert in religious matters, if is it alright to send my elderly mother to a nursing home. Am I a sinner? Am I violating the duty of doing kindness to my parents? Please advise.

Wassalamualaikum wr. wb.

 

Answer:

Wa’alaikum salam wr. wb.

To Mrs. Putri, I hope that you and the family received the blessing from God, health, and easiness in everything that you need and do. 

Dutifulness to the parents is an obligation for all Muslims. It is one act of worship to be closer to God. As stated in the Qur’an, Allah instructs that doing a good deed to the parents exceeds the instruction of worshiping the oneness of God (tauhidullah) and after the prohibition of idolatrous toward God. 

“Say: ‘Come, I will rehearse what Allah hath (really) prohibited you from: – Join not anything as equal with Him; be good to your parents…” (Q.S. Al-An’am [6]: 151)

The verses stated above show how prestigious and honorable someone’s position to show dutiful to the parents, especially in their elderly years. Allah also stated in the Qur’an Al-Isra [17]: 23-24: 

“Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in their life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. And out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say: ‘My Lord! Bestow on them thy Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood.”

Dutifulness to parents is an act that is cherished by God. The Prophet, the messenger of God, stated in the hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Mas’ud said:  ‘Which deed is loved most by Allah?” He replied, ‘To offer prayers at their early (very first) stated times.’ ” `Abdullah asked, “What is the next (in goodness)?” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “To be good and dutiful to one’s parents,” `Abdullah asked, “What is the next (in goodness)?” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “To participate in Jihad for Allah’s Cause (Compiled in Bukhari dan Muslim).

The Prophet Muhammad said that it was unfortunate and disgraceful for the children when they still have time to meet and greet their old parents but have no time to do a good deed for them. 

Referring to the question asked by Mrs. Putri, hereby my answer:

  1. The children are obliged to take care of their parents especially when they are old. This obligation is directed to the children who have the capability in financial, health knowledge, and all matters related to looking after the parents.  
  2. If the children have no ability to take care of the parents well, they can ask for help from other parties like extended family or a nursing home.
  3. ‘On no soul doth Allah place a burden greater than it can bear’ (Laa yukallifu nafsan illaa wus’ahaa).

Considering the condition experienced by Mrs. Putri as stated above, it is no sin when you send your mother to a nursing home to be taken care of, for Mrs. Putri has no capability in looking after her. Especially, you already discussed this matter with your mother and she agreed and understood your hard position. In the meantime, Mrs. Putri still can do kindness to the mother by: first, praying to God that the mother will be in good health, happiness, and a lifelong. Second, have regular visits and meaningful interaction and communication. Third, share important moments by bringing gifts she may like to strengthen the family ties and share happiness.

To sum up, for the children who have elderly and ill parents who are in need of intensive care intensively, it is their duty to take good care of them, whenever the children have the capability to do so. If the children are ignorant and send the elderly parents to the nursing home instead, the children are sinners. However, if the children have no capability in taking good care of their elderly parents, they need to find a solution by sending the parents to a nursing home with their consent. A hadith mentioned that the pleasure of Allah lies in the pleasure of the parents.

That is my answer to the question delivered by Mrs. Putri and I hope my answer can give an advantage. 

Wallahu yarhamunaa birrohmatithaamah, fi al-diin wa al-dunya wa al-akhirah.

May Allah grant us His Mercy in the religion, the world, and the hereafter.

Wassalamu’alaikum wr.wb.

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